It’s Teacher Feature Thursday!
This week we are featuring Javasia Finney, Shawna Williams, and Stephanie Jimenez in the Penguin classroom. These teachers decided on fall as their next unit because their children were noticing the changing season in their everyday lives. I joined their class for a lesson led by Javasia that concluded their fall unit. Below you will find a reflection from Javasia, Shawna, and Stephanie and images from Javasia’s lesson.
What were your topics of exploration? Why did you choose them? Where did they come from?
During the month of October the Penguins learned about and explored the beautiful season of fall. We chose this topic because the Penguins were starting to notice the leaves changing colors and falling off the trees. We wanted the children to experience learning about fall with sensory experiments. While learning about fall we spent some time covering the following topics:
- changes in outdoor environment
Why and how did you choose the visit?
The day of our teacher feature was actually our last day learning about fall. For our last day covering this topic we had the Penguins make a large collage using several different materials that had different textures. They used paint, glue, acorns, glitter, pumpkins seeds, pictures, and leaves. Our collage included all the different topics they learned about. Then I thought it would be a great idea to go visit the National Museum of the American Indian. On the third floor they have a large painting “The Maidu Creation Story” by Harry Fonseca. I chose this painting because it has fall colors and reminds me of a fall scene or fall collage. I had the Penguins sit in front of the painting and we analyzed and made observations about it. We also shared the fall inspired objects we saw in the painting.
What were your learning objectives? What did you want your children to take away from the lesson?
I wanted the children to be able to describe:
- What the weather is like in the fall
- What kind of clothes are worn in the fall
- What holidays we celebrate in the fall
- What happens to the leaves in the fall
- What foods do we eat in the fall
- What happens to the outdoor environment in the fall
What was most successful about your lesson? How did the lesson reach your objectives to expand the topic? What was successful in terms of your preparation and logistics?
The lesson was successful because by doing so many sensory experiments during this unit the children were truly able to internalize many of our fall topics. What helped in terms of preparation and logistics was very simple, it was Mother Nature. By learning about a topic like fall the children are exposed to the changes that come with the season. It affects their everyday life, i.e. putting on a jacket, going to the farmers market, carving a pumpkin, or celebrating Halloween and Thanksgiving. They can relate to this topic because they can make the connection between nature and their own personal lives. It is now two months later and every time we go outside they are still pointing out the leaves on the ground. They tell us stories about the different color leaves near their homes and helping to rake them. They now realize that this is happening because it is fall.
What could you have differently to better achieve your objectives and expand the topic? What was challenging regarding logistics? What recommendations would you have for another teacher trying out this lesson?
Looking back now I think to better achieve our objectives and expand the topic, we could have talked more about the other seasons. Then we could have made comparisons.
Overall this particular lesson went really well, the only challenging part of the day was getting to the National Museum of the American Indian. It is a pretty far walk for two year olds, but luckily the weather was nice that day. If I could make a recommendation for another teacher, I would probably say choose a closer museum with a similar style painting.
Here are a few images from their unit on fall:
Javasia began the lesson by collecting books, images and objects from throughout their unit. She went through each item reminding the children how the object connected to a lesson earlier in the month. Javasia even invited a friend to model the type of clothing one might wear during the fall.
Then it was time to start collaging all of their materials to create on collective fall mural. The leaves and sticks were collected the day before during a nature walk around the National Mall. Once each child had a turn they headed to the National Museum of the American Indian.
When they arrived at the National Museum of the American Indian, Javasia read The Museum by Susan Verde. The book talks about the different types of paintings that can be found in a museum. Since this unit fell early in the year, Javasia wanted to spend some time formally introducing the children to the concept of a museum and the art of careful looking.
Javasia selected the Creation Story by Harry Fonsec because the painting not only reminded her of fall but also provided a lot for the children to discover. She invited each child to tell the group what they saw and talk about the painting. The children spent nearly 15 minutes carefully looking! They kept noticing new things and couldn’t wait for their turn to share.
Javasia, Shawna, and Stephanie finished up their unit of fall and started exploring shapes found in architecture. Check out our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest for more ideas from their unit on fall! See you in two weeks with our next Teacher Feature!